Kelly Clarkson's Plan for Jane Austen's Ring Met With Pride, Prejudice

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on August 02, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Kelly Clarkson bought a Jane Austen ring for close to a quarter-million dollars, but now British authorities are trying to block her from taking it home to the good ol' U.S. of A.

Clarkson bought the ring, anonymously, last year at a jewelry auction at Sotheby's for about $233,000, after outbidding seven other potential purchasers, according to The Telegraph. But the UK's national culture minister put a temporary export ban on the ring, hoping for a "native" to buy it and keep it in Britain as a national cultural treasure.

But is it legal for the Brits to block a Yank's purchase?

National Treasures

Under British law, owners of "national treasures" must apply for a license to take them out of the country. These export bans aren't unusual in Britain, according to The Guardian.

For hundreds of years, he UK has struggled to keep important artworks and rare treasures from being sold off (especially to 'Mericans) by their art-rich but cash-poor aristocratic owners (like the Granthams in "Downton Abbey"), according to USA Today.

The export ban extends to September 30, but could be further extended to December 30 if there's sufficient proof that someone is prepared to pay. Under the law, the British protagonist purchaser would be required to put the ring on display for at least 100 days per year.

But if no one comes forward, then Clarkson's export license will be granted.

Piece of History

What makes the Jane Austen ring a "national treasure"?

The ring is one of only three surviving pieces of jewelry known to have belonged to Austen, which were left to her sister Cassandra when Austen died in 1817. It was passed down through the family until it was sold at the auction last July.

The ring actually isn't all that valuable by Sotheby's standards. But the game-changer is the fact that it belonged to Austen.

Austen penned six novels -- including "Pride and Prejudice" (y'know, with swoon-worthy Mr. Darcy) -- that have been insanely popular since the early 19th century. Her body of work is synonymous with British culture, and has secured a place in the canon of English literature. In fact, Austen is set to replace Charles Darwin on the 10-pound note come 2017, reports USA Today.

Due to its rarity and rich British history, Austen's ring is a "national treasure" under British law. Unfortunately for the Brits, their Mr. Darcy has yet to come forward.

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